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Old 06-29-2018, 08:22 AM   #1
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Tacoma Narrows currents (Washington state)

In all the years I've boated in south Puget Sound, I've always traversed the Tacoma Narrows at slack current. In order to make it from Olympia to Port Townsend in one day next week, I'm forced to hit the Narrows against a flood current. Is there a favored side, route or back eddies I can take advantage of?

Thanks.
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Old 06-29-2018, 09:47 AM   #2
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I think so,
We’ve just done it once but I guessed it must be like a river. I stayed (while northbound on a flood) far to the right. Told Chris what I was trying to do. She said how would I know? I turned west toward the channel center and soon was going slower. Much closer tothe point and the GPS showed higher than normal speed so we must have been in a big eddy. Of course at the point we were buck’in considerable current.

That’s what I remember but I’m sure currents will vary during various stages of the tide. So the eddy may only occur close to the tide change or ??
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:12 AM   #3
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In all the years I've boated in south Puget Sound, I've always traversed the Tacoma Narrows at slack current. In order to make it from Olympia to Port Townsend in one day next week, I'm forced to hit the Narrows against a flood current. Is there a favored side, route or back eddies I can take advantage of?



Thanks.


Obviously the best option is to avoid going against the flood. It is about 80nm from Oly to Port Townsend. Not sure what your normal cruising speed is.

I grew up watching tugs tow log booms and barges against the current in the Narrows as well as sailing in that area. I can tell you that in general, as you go North, it is a good idea to hug the East side of the Sound from just North of Steilacoom up to just South of Day Island. If you stay close enough to shore there is often a back eddy moving you North.

From there, cut across towards Pt. Fosdick and hug the West side up to Pt Evans then head NE towards Salmon Beach and hug the East Side to Pt Defiance.

Now, depending on your speed, the flood will change dramatically as you make your way from Steilacoom to Pt Defiance. The eddies and currents change a fair amount depending on what stage of the flood you are at.

Again, if you are going up this summer, if it is at all possible, I would consider heading North out of Olympia the night before if you could and spending the night somewhere on the way. There are several places where you could pick up a State Mooring buoy or anchor. Oro Bay on Anderson Island is a good spot to anchor, as is Filucy Bay.

Of course, I cruise at 7 knots, so my perspective is one of going slowly. A few weeks ago I was making 1 knot SOG against the flood through the Narrows.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:14 AM   #4
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You can find back eddies on either side. The longest and most favorable is usually on the east side. But as you round Pt Defiance you'll face the strongest currents. I usually play the back eddies. But others will say that you loose all you gained in the strong currents at Pt Defiance.



I do notice that through next Saturday the early flood is not very strong, for Tacoma Narrow, less than 2.5 kts.



The Narrows, 0.3 miles North of Bridge (PUG1527) Depth: 141 feet
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Old 06-29-2018, 12:39 PM   #5
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A resource that is really good for the Puget Sound is this book. It is a combination of the old NOAA Tidal Currents of Puget Sound charts and the Tide Prints publication based on 1977 UofW research funded by the Washington Sea Grant program.

Both of these are great resources and I still have the very tattered original copy of the original NOAA publication on my boat.

This book combines the two publications into one volume. I have both the paperback version as well as the Kindle version which works great on the iPad.

Anyway, I have no financial interest but this is an excellent tool for anyone that boats in the Puget Sound. Maybe not as useful for those running planing boats that cruise at 20 knots, but for sailors or folks that run at displacement speeds, it can be really helpful.

https://www.amazon.com/Tidal-Current...of+puget+sound
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Old 06-29-2018, 12:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dhays View Post
A resource that is really good for the Puget Sound is this book. It is a combination of the old NOAA Tidal Currents of Puget Sound charts and the Tide Prints publication based on 1977 UofW research funded by the Washington Sea Grant program.

Both of these are great resources and I still have the very tattered original copy of the original NOAA publication on my boat.

This book combines the two publications into one volume. I have both the paperback version as well as the Kindle version which works great on the iPad.

Anyway, I have no financial interest but this is an excellent tool for anyone that boats in the Puget Sound. Maybe not as useful for those running planing boats that cruise at 20 knots, but for sailors or folks that run at displacement speeds, it can be really helpful.

https://www.amazon.com/Tidal-Current...of+puget+sound

Thank you for the link! My copy of Tide Prints has suffered from years of heavy use.
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Old 06-29-2018, 06:11 PM   #7
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Thanks for the good info. I'll follow the east side north, then Covos Passage, where the current always runs north. Thanks for the link to the book also; I just ordered a copy.

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Old 06-29-2018, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhays View Post
A resource that is really good for the Puget Sound is this book. It is a combination of the old NOAA Tidal Currents of Puget Sound charts and the Tide Prints publication based on 1977 UofW research funded by the Washington Sea Grant program.

Both of these are great resources and I still have the very tattered original copy of the original NOAA publication on my boat.

This book combines the two publications into one volume. I have both the paperback version as well as the Kindle version which works great on the iPad.

Anyway, I have no financial interest but this is an excellent tool for anyone that boats in the Puget Sound. Maybe not as useful for those running planing boats that cruise at 20 knots, but for sailors or folks that run at displacement speeds, it can be really helpful.

https://www.amazon.com/Tidal-Current...of+puget+sound
Pretty useful book. I try and follow it, but for example, in the Narrows, it can keep you hopping back and forth to take advantage of the currents and I'm not sure you save much with all that swapping.

I'm moored just south of the Narrows, at Day Island, so go through the narrows frequently. For me at least, if I'm headed north, e.g. seattle, I'll almost always transit over to the west side of the narrows and tuck in as close to the shore as I can comfortably. It minimizes the current. Then as you head up towards Vashon, if going north, I'll ALWAYS head up Colvos passage. For some reason, the current in Colvos almost always flows north, or at least is neutral, even in a flood tide.

toni
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Old 06-29-2018, 08:24 PM   #9
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Pretty useful book. I try and follow it, but for example, in the Narrows, it can keep you hopping back and forth to take advantage of the currents and I'm not sure you save much with all that swapping.



I'm moored just south of the Narrows, at Day Island, so go through the narrows frequently. For me at least, if I'm headed north, e.g. seattle, I'll almost always transit over to the west side of the narrows and tuck in as close to the shore as I can comfortably. It minimizes the current. Then as you head up towards Vashon, if going north, I'll ALWAYS head up Colvos passage. For some reason, the current in Colvos almost always flows north, or at least is neutral, even in a flood tide.



toni


Yup. You have to weigh the advantage of a better current vs longer distance. The slower you are, the more important the current becomes.

Watching the tugs pull log booms was always interesting. Given the speed they moved at, and the huge amount of drag the booms gave, they found that it was well worth moving back and forth.

Another way to look at it is to start on the far East side close to shore between Steilacoom and Day’s Island, and then tend to just head North. NNW from south of Day Island puts you just North of Point Fosdick. Hugging the shore to Point Evans then heading NNE has you tucking under Point Defiance and catching the eddy there. Same with then heading up Colvos.
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Old 06-29-2018, 10:09 PM   #10
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Waterford, you can call the Puget Sound current and tide charts on line for FREE
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